Aaron Mittelstet, Ph.D.

Contact Information:
245 L.W. Chase Hall
Lincoln: East Campus
(402) 472-1427

Watershed Hydrologist, Assistant Professor, Robert B. Daugherty Water For Food Institute Fellow
Academic Degrees
  • Ph.D., Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University
  • M.S., Environmental Science, Oklahoma State University
  • B.S., Zoology, Oklahoma State University

Current Graduate Students

Olufemi Abimbola, PhD Biological Systems Engineering, Expected Graduation: December 2019; Research Topics: Spatial Variability of Streambed Hydraulic Conductivity at the Watershed Scale; Water Quality Modeling with SWAT and HEC-RAS

Jess Satiroff (co-advised with Dr. Tiffany Messer), M.S. Environmental Engineering, Biological Systems Engineering, Expected Graduation: May 2020; Research Topic: Identifying Common Use Pesticide's Degradation Byproducts and Pathways

Jessie Johnson, M.S. Biological Systems Engineering, Expected Graduation: July 2020; Research Topic: Development and Testing of an Ultrasound Sensor to Measure Erosion and Deposition

Galen Richards (co-advised with Dr. Troy Gilmore), M.S. School of Natural Resources, Expected Graduation: July 2020; Research Topic: Survey of Groundwater Transit Times and Nitrate Delivery to Bazile Creek

Matt Russell, M.S. School of Natural Resources, Expected Graduation: May 2020; Research Topic: Evaluating the Impact of Stabilized Streambanks on Downstream Banks; Quantifying Deposition Around Jetties on Cedar River, NE

Nawaraj Shrestha, PhD School of Natural Resources, Expected Graduation: July 2021; Research Topics: Exploring Hypothetical Correlation Between Drought and Lake Area of Groundwater-fed Lakes in Western Sandhills; Quantifying the Encroachment of Eastern Red Cedar in the Nebraska Sandhills

Yaser Kishawi, PhD Biological Systems Engineering, Expected Graduation: December 2021; Research Topics:  Quantifying the Impact of Eastern Red Cedar Encroachment on Water Resources in the Nebraska Sandhills and Platte River

Caner Zeyrek (co-advised with Dr. Troy Gilmore), PhD School of Natural Resources, Expected Graduation: December 2021; Research Topics: Evaluation of Watershed-Scale Groundwater Transit Time Distributions from Field Sampling and Numerical Modeling 

Past Graduate Students

Naisargi Dave, M.S. Environmental Engineering, Biological Systems Engineering, Graduation: July 2018; Thesis Title: Evaluation of Effectiveness of Streambank Stabilization Practices and Flood Impact on Cedar River, Nebraska

  • 60% Research
  • 40% Teaching
Areas of Research and Professional Interest
  • Watershed Modeling
  • Surface/Ground Water Interaction
  • Water Quality
  • Streambank Erosion
Courses Taught
Honors and Awards
  • 2018 UNL College of Engineering Recognition for Highly Impactful Research
  • M.S. student Naisargi Dave won 1st Place at the 2017 Water for Food Conference Poster Contest
  • 2nd Place, Student Poster Contest, 23rd Annual Oklahoma Clean Lakes and Watersheds Association Conference, Stillwater, OK, 2014.
  • Outstanding Manuscript Reviewer Award, ASABE, 2013.
  • 3rd Place, Student Poster Contest,  OWRRI Oklahoma Water Research Symposium, Midwest City, OK, 2013.
  • 2nd place, Environmental Science Graduate Paper Presentation, OWRRI Oklahoma State Water Research Symposium, Stillwater, OK, 2011.
  • Jimmie Pigg Environmental Policy Research Assistantship, 2009.



  • “Evaluation of Watershed-scale Groundwater Transit Time Distributions from Field Sampling and Numerical Modeling”

Sponsor:  National Science Foundation

PI:  T. Gilmore (50%) Co-PI: A.R. Mittelstet (40%), V. Zlotnik (10%)

Sponsor Amount:  $880,944; UNL: $387,030


  •  “Survey of Groundwater Transit Times and Nitrate Delivery to Bazile Creek” (June 2018 – May 2020)

Sponsor:  Department of Environmental Quality

PI:  T.G. Gilmore (50%); Co-PI: A.R. Mittelstet (40%); T.L. Messer (10%)

Sponsor Amount:  $30,000


  • “Quantifying Cost-Efficiency of Streambank Stabilization Practices on Cedar River” (Apr. 2018-Mar. 2020)

Sponsor:  Nebraska Environmental Trust

PI:  A.R. Mittelstet (92%); Co-PI: Lower Loup RC&D (8%)

Sponsor Amount:  $92,849


  • “Quantifying the Effects of Eastern Red Cedar Encroachment on Recharge in the Nebraska Sandhills” (Jan. 2018-Dec. 2021)

Sponsor:  Water Sustainability Fund

PI:  A.R. Mittelstet (60%); Co-PI: C. Neale (20%); Craig Allen (10%); Dirac Twidwell (10%)

Sponsor Amount:  $144,716


  • “Pesticide Exposure in Recreational Lakes” (Mar. 2018-Feb. 2019)

Sponsor:  USGS 104b Program

PI:  T.L. Messer (50%); Co-PI: A.R. Mittelstet (25%); Co-PI:  D. Snow (25%)

Sponsor Amount:  $24,967


  • “Pollutant Load Reduction Due to BMP Implementation in the Big Sandy Creek Watershed” (July 2017 to June 30, 2018)

Sponsor:  Natural Resources Conservation Service

PI:  A. Mittelstet (100%)

Sponsor Amount:  $25,031


  • “Spatial Variability of Streambed Conductivity across Multiple Stream Orders” (June 2017 – May. 2018)

Sponsor:  USGS 104b Program

PI:  A.R. Mittelstet (65%); Co-PI:  T.E. Gilmore (35%)

Sponsor Amount:  $19,992


  • “Quantifying Streambank Erosion and Phosphorus Loads for Watershed Assessment and Planning” (Mar. 2015 – Feb. 2016)

Sponsor:  USGS 104b Program

PI:  A.R. Mittelstet (50%); Co-PI: D.E. Storm (50%)

Sponsor Amount:  $25,000




  • “Nebraska Sandhills as a case study for understanding and communicating the complexity of coupled grassland and aquatic systems” (May 2018 to April 2019)

Sponsor:  University of Nebraska: System Science

PI:  M. Harner (40%); Co-PI: D. Dunigan (10%); A. Mittelstet (10%); M Farrell (10%); M. Forsberg (10%); J. Van Etten (10%); D. Snow (10%).

Sponsor Amount:  $20,000


  •  “Quantifying the Effects of Eastern Red Cedar Encroachment on Recharge in the Nebraska Sandhills” (August 2018 to July 2021)

Sponsor:  Water for Food Institute (WFI) Grad Student Research Support

PI:  A.R. Mittelstet (100%)

Sponsor Amount:  $96,746


  • “Application of Isotopic Tracers to Determine Water Residence Times in Multi-Scale Water Management” (May 2017 – April 2019)

Sponsor:  University of Nebraska: Sprint 4th Edition

PI:  T. Gilmore (50%) Co-PI: A. Mittelstet (30%), J. Korus (20%)

Sponsor Amount:  $19,983


  • “Managing Water Resources at the U.S. Meat and Animal Research Center” (July 3, 2017 – December 31, 2019)

Sponsor:  ARD & US MARC

PI:  A. Mittelstet (50%) Co-PI: T. Messer (30%), T. Gilmore (20%)

Sponsor Amount:  $83,612


Selected Publications
  1. Mittelstet, A.R., T.E. Gilmore, T. Messer, D.R. Rudnick and T. Heatherly, 2019. Evaluation of watershed characteristics to identify best management practices to reduce Nebraskan nitrate loads to the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin. Agriculture, Ecosystem and the Environment. 277:1-10. 
  2. Zou, C.B.,  D. Twidwell, C.H. Bielski, D.T. Fogarty, A.R. Mittelstet, P.J. Starks, R.E. Will, Y. Zhong and B.S. Acharya, 2018. Impact of Eastern Redcedar proliferation on water resources in the Great Plains USA-Current state of knowledge. Water. 
  3. M.J. Wells, T.E. Gilmore, A.R. Mittelstet, D. Snow and S.S. Sibray, 2018 Assessing decadal trends of a nitrate-contaminated shallow aquifer in western Nebraska using groundwater isotopes, age-dating, and monitoring. Water. 10(8). 
  4. Van Liew, M.W. and A.R. Mittelstet, 2018. The comparison of three regionalization techniques for the prediction of streamflow in ungauged watersheds in Nebraska, USA using the SWAT model. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 11(3): 110-119. 
  5. Freiberger, R.P., D.M. Heeren, D.E. Eisenhauer, A.R. Mittelstet and G.A. Baigorria, 2018. Tradeoffs in model performance and model effort for long-term phosphorus leaching based on in-situ field data. Vadose Zone Journal. 17(1).
  6. Korus, J.K., T.E. Gilmore, M.M. Waszgis and A.R. Mittelstet, 2018. Unit-bar migration and bar-trough deposition: impacts on permeability and grain size heterogeneity in a sandy streambed. Hydrogeology. 26(2): 553-561.  
  7. Dave, N.1 and A.R. Mittelstet, 2017. Quantifying effectiveness of streambank stabilization practices on Cedar River, Nebraska. Water. 9(12), 930.
  8. Abimbola, O., J. Wenninger, R. Venneker and A.R. Mittelstet, 2017. Assessment of Water Resources in Ungauged Catchments in Rwanda.  Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. 13: 274-289. 
  9. Forsberg T.A., D.E. Radcliffe, C.H. Bolster, A.R. Mittelstet, D.E. Storm and D. Osmond, 2017. Evaluation of a quantitative phosphorus transport model for potential improvement of southern phosphorus indices. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46:1341-1348. 
  10. Bolster, C.H., T.A. Forsberg, A.R. Mittelstet, D.E. Radcliffe, D.E. Storm, J. Ramirez-Avila and D. Osmond, 2017. Comparing an annual and daily time step model for predicting field-scale phosphorus loss. Journal of Environmental Quality. 46:1314-1322. 
  11. Mittelstet, A.R., D.E. Storm, G.A. Fox and P.M. Allen, 2017. Modeling streambank erosion on composite streambanks on a watershed scale. Transactions of the ASABE. 60(3): 753-767. 
  12. Mittelstet, A.R., D.E. Storm and G.A. Fox, 2017. Testing of the modified streambank erosion and in-stream phosphorus routines for the SWAT model. Journal of the American Water Resource Association. 53(1): 101-114. 
  13. Worthington, T., T. Zhang, S. Brewer, A.R. Mittelstet and D. Logue, 2016. Landscape and flow metrics affecting the distribution of a federally-threatened fish: Improving management, model fit, and model transferability.  Ecological Modeling. 342:1-18. 
  14. Agouridis, C.T., K.R. Douglas-Mankin, A.C. Linhoss and A.R. Mittelstet, 2016. Wetlands and coastal systems: protecting and restoring valuable ecosystems. Transactions of the ASABE. 59(5): 1299-1301. 
  15.  Mittelstet, A.R. and D.E. Storm, 2016. Quantifying legacy phosphorus using a mass balance approach and uncertainty analysis.  Journal of the American Water Resource Association. 52(6):1297-1310. 
  16.  Mittelstet, A.R., D.E. Storm and M.J. White, 2016. Using SWAT to enhance watershed-based plans to meet numeric water-quality standards. Sustainability of Water Quality and Ecology. 7:5-21. 
  17.  Neupane, S., J.R. Vogel, D.E. Storm, B.J. Barfield and A.R. Mittelstet, 2015. Development of a turbidity prediction methodology for runoff-erosion models.  Water, Air and Soil Pollution.  226(12):1-14. 
  18.  Mittelstet, A.R., D.E Storm and A. Stoecker, 2015. Using SWAT and an empirical relationship to simulate crop yields and salinity levels in the North Fork River Basin. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 8 (3): 110-123. 
  19.  Miller, R.B., D.M. Heeren, G.A. Fox, T. Halihan, D.E. Storm and A.R. Mittelstet, 2014. The hydraulic conductivity structure of gravel-dominated vadose zones within alluvial floodplains. Journal of Hydrology. 513: 229-240. 
  20.  Heeren, D.M., G.A. Fox, A.K. Fox, D.E. Storm, R.B. Miller and A.R. Mittelstet, 2014. Divergence and flow direction as indicators of subsurface heterogeneity and stage-dependent storage in alluvial floodplains. Hydrological Process. 28(3):  1307-1317. 
  21.  White, M.J., D.E. Storm, A.R. Mittelstet, P. Busteed, B. Haggard, and C. Rossi, 2014. Development and testing of an in-stream phosphorus cycling model for SWAT. Journal of Environmental Quality. 43(1): 215-223. 
  22. Mittelstet, A.R., E.R. Daly, D.E. Storm, M.J. White, and G.A. Kloxin, 2012. Field scale modeling to estimate phosphorus and sediment load reductions using a newly developed graphical user interface for soil and water assessment tool. American Journal of Environmental Sciences: 8(6): 605-614. 
  23. Heeren, D.M., A.R. Mittelstet, G.A. Fox, D.E. Storm, A.T. Al-Madhhachi, T.L. Midgley, A.F. Stringer, K.B. Stunkel, and R.B. Tejral, 2012. Using rapid geomorphic assessments to assess streambank stability in Oklahoma Ozark streams. Transactions of the ASABE. 55(3): 957-968. 
  24. Mittelstet, A.R., D.M. Heeren, G.A. Fox, D.E. Storm, M.J. White, and R. B. Miller, 2011. Comparison of subsurface and surface runoff phosphorus. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment. 141: 417-425. 
  25. Fox, G.A., D.M. Heeren, R.B. Miller, A.R. Mittelstet, and D.E. Storm. 2011, Flow and transport experiments for a streambank seep originating from a preferential flow pathway. Journal of Hydrology. 403: 360-366. 
  26. Heeren, D.M., G.A. Fox, R.B Miller, D.E. Storm, A.K Fox, C.J. Penn, T. Halihan, and A.R. Mittelstet, 2011.  Stage-dependent transient storage of phosphorus in alluvial floodplains.  Hydrological Processes.  25(20): 3230-3243. 
  27. Mittelstet, A.R., M.D. Smolen, G.A. Fox, and D.A. Adams, 2011. Comparison of aquifer sustainability under groundwater administrations in Oklahoma and Texas. Journal of the American Water Resource Association.  47(2): 424-431.